This issue of Quest features our Secretary-Treasurer, Jim Rothkopf, who has lived on the East
Coast his entire life. Born in Brooklyn, he attended New York University for his undergraduate
degree and received his M.B.A. degree from the American University in Washington, D.C. Jim
met his future wife, Sally, in the spring of 1971, on a blind date.
At the time, she had just
resigned from her job in New York and planned to move to Atlanta where she had already taken
an apartment. After several dates, Jim convinced her to postpone her move. They vacationed
together in Greece and Italy, and Sally cancelled her job resignation, recovered her deposit in
Atlanta, and, as the adage goes, “the rest is history.” They are now celebrating their fiftieth
wedding anniversary. In 1976, upon the birth of their first daughter, Sara, they moved to
Stamford, Connecticut, where they have lived ever since. Their second daughter, Jill, came along
a few years later. Like many Connecticut residents, Jim commuted by train to New York City for
35 years, and before going to the train station, he routinely worked out at the gym and then
caught a 7:30 train to the city. He didn’t mind the commute because he could always put his train
time to good use.
With his M.B.A. and C.P.A. degrees in hand, Jim started his career in a large public accounting
firm where he worked for 5 years. He moved to an educational publishing company, first as an
Assistant Controller and then Vice President of Finance. In the 1980’s he worked for a
manufacturing holding company until he was recruited to be the Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
of the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of New York, one of the largest fundraising
organizations in the world, raising over $200 million a year for 130 agencies in New York City
as well as supporting many worthy causes in Israel. As the UJA Federation’s first CFO, Jim set
the standard for good financial management. This sparked his current enduring interest in
philanthropy. Jim’s last position before retirement was the CFO of the American Friends of
Hebrew University, fundraising for one of the largest universities in Israel where he has traveled
many times and continues to maintain friendships.
At his going away party from UJA Federation, Jim was presented with a bicycle that
reinvigorated his love for cycling (he particularly enjoys riding through the challenging hills in
New England). Jim and Sally love to tour and have traveled extensively in Italy, Portugal, Costa
Rica, and the USA national parks.
The Rothkopfs met Dr. Catalona for the first time in 1994. Jim had undergone his annual
physical examination, and although PSA testing was not routinely ordered for men in their 40s, a
nurse had inadvertently ordered the test for Jim. The PSA level was elevated, a biopsy was
performed, and the result revealed localized prostate cancer. Jim felt that his best option would
be radical prostatectomy, and he didn’t want to be looking over his shoulder for 35+ years, so he
first scheduled surgery at a large hospital in New York City. His primary-care physician had
heard about Dr. Catalona, then practicing at Washington University in St. Louis. Coincidentally,
Jim’s daughter, Sara, had just enrolled in Washington University, and he and Sally were going for parents’ weekend. He scheduled an appointment with Dr. Catalona who reassured them about
Jim’s prognosis. Jim canceled his surgery in New York and spent Thanksgiving in 1994
recovering from surgery in the hospital in St. Louis and eating his turkey dinner on a Styrofoam
plate. He has remained healthy ever since.
In their retirement, Jim and Sally enjoy most spending time with their
daughters and their
families. Sara and her husband, Andrew, live in Potomac, Maryland while Jill and her husband,
Jon, live in New York City with their two children, Edie and Cooper.
Jim sits on several boards and enjoys these associations because they enable him to stay current
with the philanthropic world while he provides them with financial expertise that helps further
their respective humanitarian missions.